Stretching, Uncategorized

Most Tennis Stretches Don’t Work and Why!

So you are getting ready to play tennis and you know should be stretching/warming up to play the match. You lift your foot, if you can, and set it on top of the net to stretch your hamstring, right? You stand there talking to your friends for 20 seconds to a minute, because the longer you stand there, the better the stretch, right?. You take that leg down and then place the other foot up there and repeat the same process. How cool! I can stretch my hamstring and talk to my friends at the same time. Most of my friends are impressed that I can actually get my foot up to the net. The ones who cannot reach the net will sit on the bench, stick their leg out in front of them and bend their ankles to stretch their calves. The rest of the players will just fly onto the court and began to play because they just not have time to stretch and besides they do not need it. They stretched yesterday at the gym. Does this sound familiar?

In all of these scenarios, none of these people have actually stretched anything. In fact, the last group has the best chance of not having an injury while playing. The first group is doing what they were told to do by their pro or instructor. The problem is, they are doing strength training disguised as stretching. First of all, the standing in that position is an act of balancing which means their calves, feet, and thighs are all contracting so they do not fall down. Secondly, they have to contract their abdominal muscles to lean forward, tightening the ab muscles. Finally, there are three hamstring muscles and they are trying to stretch all three at the same time which is impossible. All three hamstring muscles are important for tennis because you are running in many different directions and stretching them in one direction is just wrong! As a side note, the four calf muscles need to be stretched to help the three hamstring muscles work better.

The second group is trying to stretch their calf muscles, but they are tightening their shin muscles which will lead to shin splints. Sitting with your leg out in front of you and bending your foot back towards you requires the contraction your shin muscles which will cause them to tighten. I know, I know, you have been told that you should contract your muscle and release. Contract again and release, which is suppose to stretch the opposing muscle. All you have done to fatigued the muscle you have been contracting. The last group doing nothing at all, are at least not tightening their muscles more than they already are, but they are still tight and will eventually hurt themselves. So what should you do?

Get a yoga strap, rope, or belt to stretch. Do not use an elastic band as they were designed for strength training. You can sit on the ground or sit on the bench with your foot on top of something like an ottoman. Place the strap around the ball of your foot and gently pull the strap towards you without using your leg muscles, only your arms. This will stretch the 2 middle calf muscles attach into the Achilles tendon. As you begin the stretch breathe out and focus on letting these two muscles relax. You need to focus your brain on the stretch or the stretch is lost. The brain is the most important part of stretching. You have heard of the mind/body connection in yoga classes? This is very similar except we don’t hold the stretches for a long period of time. Only hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds and repeat the stretch 8-10 times. I will talk about more later. Now, rotate your foot to the middle of your body and repeat the stretch. Finally, rotate the foot to the outside of the body and repeat the stretch again.

The reason for holding the stretch for just 3-5 seconds is to avoid the stretch reflex, which is in every muscle we have. That is what keeps you free of danger until our thoughts override it, this causes injuries. Allowing the muscles you are stretching to relax frees the joint in that area and gives the brain the opportunity to release the muscle. Repeating the stretch 8-10 times allows you time to acclimate to the movement and let your brain learn that your body can move that way. Focusing on the stretch versus talking to your friends allows your brain to release the emotional tension and then the physical tension in the muscle. If you occupy your brain with information that can cause stress, sadness, anger, or even happiness the brain will not let the muscle release and in some cases may even tighten the muscles more

Tennis is a great game, but if you are not prepared to play the game, injuries will occur. My clients that do play tennis love the fact that their new flexibility improves the way they can hit the ball, attack the net, and chase down balls they could have never gotten to before adding this type of stretching to their game. My oldest tennis player is 89 years old and he plays 3 times a week against 70 and 80 year old opponents. His average game last 2-3 hours. Oh , did I say he also built his own ranch at 87.

Back Pain

The 5 Worst Low Back Treatments and Why

80% of all Americans will suffer back pain at some point in the lives and it is the #1 reason people visit their doctor. So why are so many people suffering from back pain and why can’t we stop it? The truth is we are treating the wrong part of the body. Rarely is low back pain a back issue. I have listed the 5 of the worst mistakes in treating low back pain and I will discuss why after each bullet point.

The 5 worst low back treatments are:

1Strength training your back and/or stomach. The idea here is the pain is due to muscle weakness and if we can make the muscles stronger in the stomach and back, we can stop the pain. The truth is, your back pain is coming from the front side of your body. The front of your thighs, inner thigh, and hip flexors cause more low back pain then anything else. In fact, just ignoring it or only doing short-term fixes can lead to bulging discs, herniated discs, or pinched nerves.

2Sitting for long periods of time or doing nothing. Most people sit a lot during their day whether at work or relaxing at home. The body in a seated position shortens the front of thigh, inner thighs, and hip flexors. These muscles, when shortened, will pull the pelvis forward causing a pinch in the low back setting off pain that can drop you to your knees. As in mistake #1, doing nothing can lead to more serious injuries.

3 Traditional Stretching. Stretching as we were taught in school and athletics is actually strength training disguised as stretching. We hold the stretches too long , pull too hard, and try to stretch too many muscles at one time. When the body is in pain, your brain will anticipate pain every time you move in a direction that could possibly hurt. That anticipation of pain will cause the muscles to contract as the brain is trying to protect you. Holding a stretch for more than 5 seconds and forcing the muscle to lengthen will put the brain in the fight or flight mode. This will cause the muscles to contract and increase the pain.

4- Massage therapy– Massage therapist are taught to target the site of pain. If your therapist is only working on your back trying to push out the knots, like in #3, your brain will fight back. No one can cause your muscles to release unless you allow it. Deep tissue massage can cause your brain to fight back because if the pressure is too much, your brain will fight back leaving you with only short-term relief.

5Injections, braces, or surgery. Injections for low back pain is only useful if you are trying to only stop the pain. The doctor is not fixing anything. For example, what if you went to the dentist with a toothache and the dentist only gave you a shot to numb your mouth. Did they fix the pain and will it come back? The same is true for the rest of your body. Braces are to stabilize an area that is broken or torn. Low back pain is neither. Some people think a brace is for support, but the truth is, if the front of your body causes the pain, what good is a brace? Surgery is design to fix an area that has been damaged from past movements or behaviors. For example, the bulging disc may cause some pain, but what caused the bulging disc. If you surgically fix that one and not find the cause, won’t it bulge somewhere else?

The problem with all these treatments is that they are not addressing the cause of the low back pain. There is a specialized stretch to stretch the upper quad(front of thigh) and it is not standing on 1 foot and pulling your heel up to your hip. There is a specialized stretch for stretching the inner thighs and it is not doing a split or working an abductor machine at the gym. Once you can understand the mechanics of your body, it will become clear that working on the low back for low back pain is worthless.

In my next post I will tell you the 3 best stretches to stop your back pain in 3-5 days and why they outperform everything else that is suppose to solve your problem. Every day I meet people that are frustrated and tired of the letdowns from back pain cures that just don’t work. These stretches have work for people from 21 to 95 years of age and can easily be done at home or your office. I suffered for 6 months with severe low back pain and once I figured this out, my pain went away and hasn’t come back in 15 years. You can do the same. I have many clients that have testimonials on my website at http://www.MuscleRepairShop.com

Uncategorized

We are Changing the Blog Name

Beginning Thursday, February 21, 2019, our new blog name will be. “Stretch and Release.” Our blog address will be http://www.stretchnrelease.com. Please make note of the changes so you don’t miss out on any of our posts.

“Stretch and Release” is the name of our technique for helping people stop their chronic pain and it seemed natural to name our blog the same. We will continue to give the same great information in the same format.

Stretching

Don’t Blame it on Your Age

Most people never think about old age until they are in their 50’s and 60’s. I remember when I was 49, my friends started teasing me about all the pain I would start feeling after I turned 50. Though they were teasing, my friends, like most people actually do believe this. Most people think that there is something about 40,50,or 60 that causes aches and pain. The truth is it takes 40 or 50 years of abuse before it catches up to us.

If we could teach young people how to care for their bodies correctly, many aches and pains that plague older people would disappear. This change in our lives could have a major impact on health care costs.

Do you think that going to the gym is enough. Maybe you prefer yoga, pilates, or any other activity for fitness. All of these are great ways to increase your strength, but can lead to injuries because we leave out releasing the muscles. The core question should always be, am I stretching or strength training? Even in yoga, if you are holding poses, you are stamina training which is not stretching, or releasing, the muscles. Once you learn how to release your muscles emotionally, then releasing physically becomes easier. This can be harder than it sounds.

Stretching is very meditative if done correctly. You must feel your muscles letting go and slowly apply gentle pressure to give you brain time to release. Without doing this, you are just strength training which will tighten your muscles as if you were lifting weights.

Our muscles can tighten from stressful thoughts. Think about this, “Have you ever seen a stressed person look relaxed?” No! Their bodies are tight and that tightness comes from the thoughts they are having. My point is, when stretching,if you are thinking about the errands you must do, the bills that need to be paid, or the things you dread doing, you are tightening you muscles and therefore cannot stretch your body.

When you see a yogi master stretching, the music is very soft and soothing, it is quiet, and they are focused only on their body. It is difficult to stretch listening to fast paced music, weights clanging around, or people talking loud around you. Your brain has to relax before it can relax your muscles.

Some muscle experts will speak of muscle memory. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that every muscle has its own brain. We only have one brain and it creates the habits we do every day. If you change what you think, you can change how you feel. How many times have we heard motivation gurus say that? The reason is our brain determines how well we feel based on our habits. Change your habits, your life changes.

Please leave your comments below and suggest any new topics you want to hear about. You can watch and learn from my videos at my YouTube channel, The Muscle Repair Shop, or visit my website at http://www.MuscleRepairShop.com

Stretching

Do This 1 Thing to Improve Flexibility

We hear it all the time, “flexibility is the key to less injuries and daily chronic pain.” So why are we not able to attain what every person teaching stretching advertises? I see many stretching videos every day on the internet, a few I have purchased, to go more in depth. Consistently, I see this one thing that is missing. This one thing is the reason for your frustration and causing pain in your mobility.

The sad truth is, this is not even taught in medical or massage schools or certification processes. So what is this so valuable piece of information you ask? Don’t laugh! It is your MIND! I know, WHAT???? Yes, the most important key to flexibility is your mind.

We associate flexibility to young people. We think we are too old to be flexible. In fact, our idea of flexibility is flawed as well as how to become flexible. Let’s start with the idea of flexibility. We see athletes and performers that stand with their ankle behind their head or slide down into a split and think, we could never do that. You are probably correct in your thinking, but that is extreme flexibility. You walk every day, but do you walk as fast as a professional walker? Probably not, but it doesn’t stop you from walking, does it?

The flexibility you need to survive as a human is not so extreme. Proper flexibility can be attained and kept at any age. Proper flexibility will free your joints, spine, and nerves to reduce your daily aches and pains. Stretching will improve your mobility and balance. Your aches and pains come from joints being too tight due to tight muscles. This tightness causes your to expend more energy to move than for younger people. This is called rusting up, not old age. Thus rusting of the body leads to pinched nerves, bulging and herniated discs, and joint replacement. I believe most joint replacements could have been avoided if more people were flexible.

I remember in the move, “Bloodsport” Jean Claude VanDamme was shown being stretched by a martial arts master. VanDamme was between two trees with each foot tied to a tree and pulled apart by tightening the ropes. His hands were tied the same way and pulled apart by ropes too. It looked great on film, but in real life his body would be cramping beyond what he could have withstood. That is not how you improve flexibility!

Have you ever seen someone in a gym sitting on a weight machine designed for inner thighs and they try to use the weights to stretch their inner thighs? This is very common and is used by some trainers for stretching. Maybe you have done this! I love to ask trainers, therapists, and even some doctors, “Do you know the difference between Stretching and Strength Training?” Of course they all said yes. Next I ask them to show me. 90% of what we are told about stretching is actually strength training. I will go into more detail in a future post.

Let’s get back to the mind. Your brain is designed to prevent you from getting hurt or dying. It does it all day by helping you make wise choices. When you are stretching your muscles, the brain is being activated to prevent you from tearing or straining muscles. Especially if you are suffering a chronic injury you will be hypersensitive to pain.

The longer you hold a stretch and the pain increases, the more the brain will tighten the muscle. This is strength training. Think about it. When you lift a weight, you must tighten the muscle to move the weight, right? When your brain fears injury or pain, as the muscle is lengthen there is a slight resistance to the extension and that resistance is because the brain is afraid you will hurt yourself. Until the brain relaxes, the muscle can never relax. Yoga calls this, the mind body connection. Sadly, few people practicing yoga understand this as I have many clients that practice yoga and needed to learn this.

As you read my posts about various injuries, or watch my videos on YouTube, “The Muscle Repair Shop”, you will hear me say, “only hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times.” The reason for the short hold time is to avoid the stretch reflex from the brain out of fear and the 8-10 reps is to help the brain realize it can let go without pain.

My future posts will zero in on specific injuries or chronic pain and how to get rid of them quickly. If there is something you want more information about and I haven’t covered it, please leave a comment and I will address it quickly for you. My website, http://www.MuscleRepairShop.com can help you in finding answers to common questions. You are always welcome to call me anytime.

Uncategorized

What are You Waiting For?

It seems that every day someone will make the comment, “Life sure flies by fast!” I am sure many of you have heard that throughout your life. I don’y think time has sped up in any way, but we get so caught in what we are doing that we set aside those important visits, or even moments, to spend with the people we love.

Today, my friend Ann passed away after a long battle with cancer. As I age I am reminded each year how important it is to spend time with loved ones by witnessing my friends dying one by one. Yet, with these huge reminders, I think about the people I love and soon get back to life the way it was. Are the things I do more important than family or friends. The short answer is no, but we look at our lives, is that true?

No one is ever promised an extra day on this earth, so what are we waiting for that will allow us to relax and enjoy our friends and family? Is there something that will happen that will signal us that it is Ok to waste time with the people we care about the most? If we earn all this money we have envisioned in our lives, we it be worth it if there is no one around to enjoy it with? When is enough, enough?

Stretching

Is it Really Your Age?

I just had a client come in to see me complaining of low back pain. She had been to doctors who had sent her to physical therapy. After several weeks of therapy, her back improved a little but still nagging her every time she did anything. She went back to her doctor to complain, he politely said to her, it is probably your age. This woman is less than fifty years old, how could it be her age? Most people would agree with the doctor, since all of our peers tell us that after 40 it is downhill from there.  With so many people living to well in their 80’s, that means that more than half your life is living in pain.

   According to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health, more people suffer with pain each year then diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. Opiods have been the answer for a while and we are learning that is not working. Braces, injections, and surgeries don’t seem to be slowing the pain down. The question is what do we do now? When the lifespan was only 65-70 years old, we could survive till death, but today we are living much longer and it is becoming impossible to survive that long.

 The best answer I have seen is learning how the brain works with our muscles and how to stretch our bodies correctly. What we see in the gyms and on TV is not stretching correctly. It is disappointing to see all these highly educated people stretching people incorrectly. We need to teach them better. Learning to stretch correctly stopped my own back pain 16 years ago and I see it helping people everyday regardless of their ages. What age has to do with your aches and pains is to tell you how long it took you to get to the pain. Everybody at 50 does not have the same pain in the same place. Your pain has more to do with your lifestyle. Things like the way you walk, stand, and sit play a huge role in the amount of pain you suffer. I will talk in future posts more specifically about gait and posture so stay tuned for that. Be sure to ask questions or make comments on any of my posts as I am open to questions and comments.